Top 5 Best Telescopes Under $300 – Buyer’s Guide

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You do not need to be an astronomer to gaze at the stars. Humankind had a fascination with stars in the night sky since ancient times.

In fact, our ancestors used to plot courses by staring at the stars and essentially using it as a map when traveling in the desert or across vast oceans.

Those days are long behind us, yet our fascination with space has not diminished. With the telescope under $300, you can take your first steps into gazing at celestial bodies with awe and wonder.

And if you are an astronomer in the making, investing in a telescope is not only a necessity, it is essential.

The price of a decent quality telescope has undoubtedly seen a decline over the years. Many high-end brands manufacture affordable quality instruments to navigate the wonders of our solar system.

Some of them are even powerful enough to be a practical option for astronomers.
But first, you need to know where to look.

In this article, we will give you a quick rundown of some of the best budget telescopes that you can find with enough power and build quality to be a good investment.

Top 5 Telescopes under $300 Review

budget Telescopes Review

In the following section of the article, we will give you our reviews for five of the telescopes under $300 that you can find on the market that delivers you the best performance for the price.

Gskyer Telescope, 600x90mm AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope

Gskyer Telescope, 600x90mm AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope

Starting off our list of reviews, we will be looking at a budget-friendly brand for people who are looking to buy a decent quality telescope without burning a hole in their wallets.

The GSkyer refractor telescope brings quality at an affordable price without compromising on the essential features that you would want with your investment.

First of all, the unit comes with a 90mm aperture along with a focal length of 600mm. This combo ensures you get clear visuals at long distances without losing any of the clarity.

The fully coated glass lens you get with the unit ensures you get stunning visuals when you gaze at the starry sky.

You can also expect more significant levels of magnification, thanks to the three different eyepieces of 24X, 60X, and 120X that you get with your unit.

Furthermore, the 3X Barlow lens you get with your purchase further enhances the magnifying capabilities of each eyepiece.

It also features an adjustable tripod to ensure you get a comfortable and practical viewing angle.

The tripod features aluminum construction, and you can adjust it from anywhere between 31.5 to 49 inches.

Using the telescope is also relatively easy, ensuring that even a beginner will have a fun time using it.

Highlighted Features

  • Budget-friendly reflector lens
  • 90mm aperture and 600mm focal length
  • Includes three eyepieces and a 3x Barlow Lens
  • Comes with an adjustable aluminum tripod

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Gskyer Telescope, Astronomy Refractor Telescope

Gskyer Telescope, Astronomy Refractor Telescope

Next up, we will be looking at another product by the brand Gskyer. This one is another entry-level budget-friendly model with many of the same high-end features as the last product we reviewed.

Similar to the last one, it is also a reflector telescope, which at this budget is quite hard to find.
The objective lens diameter with this unit is 80mm, which is a bit lower than the previous model.

However, thanks to the focal length, 900mm picture clarity is not a problem with it. This combo is also quite efficient and helps you locate distant objects fast and easily.

To further enhance your tracking capabilities, you get three eyepieces included with your purchase, 36X, 90X, ad 180X.

Besides, you also get the 3X Barlow lens that helps you increase the viewing power of the eyepieces.

This unit also allows you to hook it up to your smartphone to capture images of what you find.
The equatorial mount tripod included with this unit is the same as the last model.

This means you can expect a similar level of performance both in terms of its build quality and functionality.

The easy to use nature of this tool allows both beginners and professionals to use it to its fullest potential.

Highlighted Features

  • Budget-friendly reflector telescope
  • 80mm aperture and 900mm focal length
  • Includes three eyepieces and a 3x Barlow Lens
  • Can be used with a smartphone to capture images

Celestron 114LCM Computerized Telescope

Celestron 114LCM Computerized Telescope

If you want an automated telescope that does the tracking for you, then you cannot go wrong with the 114LCM by the brand Celestron.

The brand is one of the best when it comes to bringing you high-quality telescopes. Whenever you are buying something from them, you can be sure of its quality.

The unit features a large 114mm aperture Newtonian reflector, which leaves nothing to complain about.

It is highly optimized to view distant objects clearly, thanks to its light-gathering capability. In addition, you get two eyepieces of 25mm and 9mm and a red dot finderscope to enhance your viewing experience further.

One of the best features of the unit is the inclusion of the Sky Tour software. This is an excellent tool for a beginner as it allows you to instantly track objects visible in the sky with the simple touch of a button. As a result, even if you do not know where to look, the telescope will do the tracking for you.

The unit also comes with an adjustable aluminum tripod with a strong and sturdy build quality. To power the telescope, you also get an ac adapter included with your purchase.

Although it is a reflector telescope, the computerized functions of the unit and the clarity in viewing you get with it are exceptional.

Highlighted Features

  • Computerized reflector telescope
  • Newtonian reflector mirror with 114 mm aperture
  • Field of view 1.6 degrees
  • Comes with two eyepieces and a red dot finderscope

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Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope

Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope

For the next product on our list, we will be looking at a product by another leading brand in the industry, Orion.

Named after one of the brightest constellations in the night sky, this company acts as a guiding light for beginners and experts alike.

The Astro Reflector Telescope by them is one of their finest offerings for an entry-level telescope.

This unit features mirrors of a 4.5-inch aperture with a focal ratio of f/4 and a focal length of 450mm.

As a result, you will get clear and bright images of anything in and around our solar systems. Looking at distant nebulas and star clusters has never been better than what you get with this excellent unit.

Along with your purchase, you get two Explorer II 1.25 inches Kellner eyepieces. The aperture for each of them is 17 and 5 mm, respectively.

Additionally, you get an EZ Finder II reflex sight to ensure you have an easier time aiming at the object. It is a genuinely complete setup for entry-level and intermediate stargazers.

A unique feature of the unit is its tabletop design. As a result, you do not have to make a lot of room when you want to set it up.

All you need is a table beside an open window, and you should be all set. The unit also includes the Starry Night astronomy software to help you learn where you want to look when using it.

Highlighted Features

  • Tabletop alt-az mount reflector sight
  • An aperture of 4.5 inches with a focal length of 450mm
  • Comes with two eyepieces and a reflex sight
  • Compact and lightweight design

Celestron – AstroMaster 90AZ Refractor Telescope

Celestron - AstroMaster 90AZ Refractor Telescope

To finish things off, we will be looking at a high-end refractor telescope by the brand Celestron. As we have already said, the brand is trustworthy when it comes to the quality of the product they deliver. If you want a telescope that you can trust blindly, this is the one to get.

It comes with a 90mm aperture lens with a focal length of 1000mm. Such high focal length leads to a magnification of 50x and 100x, offering excellent clarity in whatever object you view using the telescope. The focal ratio of the unit is f/11, ensuring you will have no trouble viewing distant star clusters.

With your purchase, you get two eyepieces of 20mm and 10mm aperture in addition to an erect image star diagonal.

The inclusion of the red dot finderscope ensures you will have an easy time locating the objects. In addition, you also get a free copy of the Starry Night astronomy software.

Furthermore, you get a high-quality alt-az tripod that features sturdy and robust aluminum construction.

The unit features a very lightweight design and allows for easy assembly. So, you do not need to worry about things getting too complicated for you to handle, even if you are a complete beginner.

Highlighted Features

  • Budget-friendly reflector telescope
  • 90mm aperture and 1000mm focal length
  • Includes two eyepieces and a red dot finderscope
  • Excellent levels of magnification

Things to Consider When Buying the Telescopes under $300

Whenever you are shopping on a budget, it is essential for you to have a good idea about the ins and outs of the product that you are buying. That way, you can protect yourself from potentially ending up with a bad unit.

Without proper research and idea about the different elements of the product, you cannot make an informed decision.

To help protect you against this, in the following section, we will give you a brief rundown of the different elements that you must know when you are looking for quality telescopes.

If you overlook these crucial elements, you have only yourself to blame if you end up with a mediocre product.

Type of Telescope

Different Types of Telescopes under $200

When looking at different telescopes in the market, you will come across two main variants, a refractor telescope and a reflector telescope.

The functional capabilities and designs of these telescopes vary from each other by quite a large margin. And you need to know about both of them to make an educated decision.

Reflector Telescope

A reflector telescope reflects the light using mirrors. It does not contain any glass lenses, but instead, uses a thin mirror that can bounce the light to give you the image.

The best thing about this design is that it is relatively cheap. Within a budget of $300, a reflector telescope is the most practical choice.

Refractor Telescope

A refractor telescope comes with a glass lens at the front of its tube. The purpose of this lens is to bend the light as it passes through the lens.

Although these units are excellent, especially if you buy high aperture models, they can be quite expensive.

Aperture

Aperture, also referred to as objective, is one of the essential elements of a telescope. As intimidating as it may sound, simply put, it means the diameter of the lens or mirror that comes with your telescope. Typically, it is measured using millimeters; however, some manufacturers also use inches.

With a bigger aperture, more light can enter the telescope, which in turn means better magnification and viewing quality.

If you buy a unit with a decent aperture, you can even view objects as far as Jupiter. However, with budget units, finding a high aperture telescope is quite tricky.

Focal Length

Another element that contributes to how far an object you can view using your telescope is the focal length. It primarily deals with clarity.

With a better focal length, you will get better resolution in your images, which you can then zoom and view in greater detail.

The focal length of the telescope and that of the eyepiece allows you to calculate the magnification that you will get.

All you have to do is to divide the focal length of the telescope with that of the eyepiece. This is a critical element of a telescope, and you should never overlook this aspect under any circumstances.

Mounting System

Mounting System

Now, the mounting system of the telescope dictates how smoothly and precisely you can operate it.

There are two types of mounts that you need to understand when shopping for a telescope, alt-az mount, and equatorial mount.

Although mostly you will find alt-az mounts in this budget, it is worth understanding what each of them offers.

Alt-az Mounts

This is the most common mount that you can find on a telescope. It allows for two motions, altitude and azimuth or, in simpler words, vertical and horizontal.

In most cases, this mount comes with knobs to make precise adjustments when you are trying to take a celestial object. You can also find models that come with computers for automated tracking.

Equatorial Mounts

Equatorial mounts are the better and more expensive type of mounts that you can find on a telescope.

For a professional astronomer, this is the better choice. It comes with slow-motion controls to precisely track a celestial body for long periods.

Eyepiece

The eyepiece or pieces you get with your purchase are also something that you need to worry about when buying the telescope.

Sometimes also referred to as the ocular lens, this is the part of the telescope where you place your eye. It has a lot of impact on the levels of magnification you can get with the device.

Ideally, you want to buy a unit that gives you a couple of different ocular lenses of various sizes. That way, you will have a lot of magnification options right at your fingertips.

All the units that we reviewed come with at least two extra eyepieces that adds a lot of value to your investment.

Weight

The telescope’s weight should not be an issue for people who want a stationary model. However, some people, especially those shopping in the budget range, want to use it from a roof or an open field.

In that case, you want to invest in a lightweight telescope as it would mean more comfortable transportation.

On the other hand, most high-end telescopes tend to be quite bulky with all the different elements that go into it.

So you need to consider your requirements. Whether you want to buy a stationary, heavyweight telescope or a portable, lightweight version, it entirely depends on your preference.

Additional Features

Apart from the essentials, there are a few other things that you might consider when choosing the telescope to squeeze out a bit more value.

For instance, you should look at the length of the tube. With a longer tube, you will get a longer focal length, which in turn give you better clarity.

You should also look into the warranty information for the telescope that you are buying. That way, if you end up with a faulty product, you can get it replaced with the help of the manufacturers.

The inclusion of a finderscope with the telescope also helps when you want to aim with higher precision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take pictures with a telescope?

It depends on the model that you are using. Some telescopes come with external adapters that you can hook up with your phone or camera to take pictures of whatever you are viewing through the eyepiece.

If you want to take pictures, you should consider buying a unit like that.

Do I need to buy any accessories with my telescope?

There are a few additional accessories that you could buy to improve your overall experience with a telescope.Although they are not essential, they offer a lot of benefits.

For instance, a carry case is a must if you plan on transporting the device frequently. Another valid investment you could make is towards buying a few extra eyepieces for different magnification and viewing options.

Is $300 enough for a high-quality telescope?

Not all the time. Three hundred dollars is not exactly the budget for a high-end telescope. At best, you can expect to get an intermediate telescope with some high-end tracking features.

All the products listed in our reviews should be beneficial to beginner or intermediate level users.

However, if you are looking for better power and magnification options, you would have a better chance by increasing your budget.

What does the computer do in a telescope?

When buying a telescope, you can find some models that feature a built-in computer. This can be a potent tool in the hands of both amateurs and beginners.

It can automatically track objects when you are having difficulty locating them manually.
The computer can also use different astronomy software that contains a database of the location of stars and other celestial objects.

So you can easily use it to locate something that you want to see without any calibration or tracking yourself.

How do I determine the focal length of the telescope if I cannot see it in the specifications?

Determining the focal length of a telescope is not that hard if you can find the aperture and focal ratio of the model.

All you have to do is multiply the focal length by the listed aperture. The value you get will be the focal length of the telescope.

Similarly, if you want to know the focal ratio from the focal length and aperture, you have to divide the length by the aperture. The value would give you the focal ratio.

Final Thoughts

Just because your budget is tight does not mean you need to invest in low-quality products. Our review of the telescopes should give you enough options when it comes to finding quality devices at an affordable price range.

We hope our extensive article was of help to you. Whichever model you end up buying, we hope you enjoy your time with it.

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